Drugs for heartburn and reflux disease increase risk of intestinal infections. Medications such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac) suppress the stomach acid that fights bacteria.
Side effect: A two- to threefold increase in risk of a Clostridium difficile bacterial infection, which can cause diarrhea, colitis and other intestinal problems.
Self-defense: If you use a heartburn or reflux drug, be vigilant about washing your hands, which will kill C. difficile bacteria. Consult your physician if you have frequent diarrhea containing mucus or blood. C. difficile infections are treated with antibiotics.
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